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The impact of parkrun on the health and wellbeing of the Australian population and lessons for otherinterventions

Sport and Physical Activity Research Centre

About the Project

Sheffield Hallam University is inviting applications for this PhD project in the College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences. The project is part of our joint PhD programme with La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Students on the joint PhD programme will be enrolled on a PhD at both institutions, with a supervisory team of academics from each institution. On successful completion, the candidate will be awarded a PhD jointly by both institutions.
This project is based at Sheffield Hallam, with an expectation that the successful candidate will spend up to 12 months at La Trobe during the course of the project.
parkrun is a non-profit organisation which delivers free, weekly, timed 5 km events held in areas open space in over 2000 locations across the world. Started in 2004 in the UK, it is now in 22 countries and has around 6 million registered participants who walk, run or volunteer.

Working with parkrun Australia and parkrun Global, the aim of this project is to determine the health and wellbeing impact of parkrun on Australian participants and use it to design and set up a long-term study on parkrun’s global impact on health and wellbeing. The project will use a mixed-methods approach to understand the impact of parkrun on the health and wellbeing of participants in Australia; the results will be compared to previous research in the UK and Ireland or other studies carried out by parkrun. The project will aim to set up a longitudinal survey that could be administered simply by parkrun over the coming decades to assess its impact in any country in the world.

The findings will be made generalizable so that other organisations can benefit through an understanding of the successful elements of behaviour change components of parkrun. The research will enhance, in particular, the understanding of successful behaviour change in previously inactive and deprived communities.

The project will be supervised by a world-class team of 4 supervisors at Sheffield Hallam University and La Trobe University.

Experience of parkrun is desirable but not essential.

Funding Notes

This is a competition-funded project. We are inviting applications to a number of different projects, and are offering up to 3 scholarships to the strongest applicants overall. Further information on the scholarships, including funding and eligibility, is available on our website.


1. Stevinson, C., Wiltshire, G., & Hickson, M. (2015). Facilitating participation in health-enhancing physical activity: a qualitative study of parkrun. International journal of behavioral medicine, 22(2), 170-17
2. Stevinson, C., & Hickson, M. (2013). Exploring the public health potential of a mass community participation event. Journal of Public Health, 36(2), 268-274.
3. Cleland, V., Nash, M., Sharman, M. J., & Claflin, S. (2019). Exploring the Health-Promoting Potential of the “parkrun” Phenomenon: What Factors are Associated With Higher Levels of Participation?. American Journal of Health Promotion, 33(1), 13-23.

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